Colo. Forecasters Call For 10 Named Storms for 2012

NU Online News Service, April 4, 3:01 p.m. EDT

An early hurricane forecast is calling a below-average hurricane season with 10 named storms for the Atlantic basin.

The Colorado State University hurricane forecast team headed by William Gray, founder of the university’s tropical meteorology project and Phil Klotzbach leader of the project, say cooling of the tropical Atlantic and the potential for development of El Nino conditions lead forecasters to believe the season will not be as strong as in the recent past.

The forecasters issued an initial announcement a few weeks ago, but this is the first forecast where they have issued a prediction for the number of tropical events.

“We have witnessed cooling of the tropical Atlantic during this past winter, and there is a fairly high likelihood that an El Nino event will develop this summer,” says Klotzbach in a statement. “Typically, El Nino is associated with stronger vertical shear across the tropical Atlantic, creating conditions less conducive for storm formation.”

In its April forecast, the team is predicting that of the 10 named storms, four will become hurricanes and two of those will be major hurricanes.

A major hurricane is a category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale with sustained winds of 111 mph and higher.

The hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.

The team says there is a 42 percent chance that at least one major hurricane will strike the U.S. coastline; 24 percent chance that a major hurricane will make landfall on the U.S. East coast; 24 percent chance a major hurricane will make landfall on the Gulf Coast from Florida Panhandle to Brownsville, and a 34 percent chance a major hurricane will track into the Caribbean.

Gray says that despite the below-average forecast this year, the Atlantic Basin hurricane activity remains in a highly active multiple decade period that has been going on since 1995 and is expected to continue for the next 10-15 years.

The team says it plans to issue updates to its forecast on June 1 and Aug. 3.

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